Ole Miss vs. Penn State kicks off Saturday (12/30/23) at noon EST in Atlanta as the host site for the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Get Ole Miss vs. Penn State predictions and best bets below. Our best bet is on Penn State -3.5 as their defense is equipped to slow down the Rebels.
Ole Miss vs. Penn State Prediction
Both Penn State and Ole Miss were in position to finally escape tier B status in their respective conferences, yet both underwhelmed in their efforts as they failed to beat the cream of the crop. Still, both units are chock full of talent and come into this game relatively unscathed from opt outs and the transfer portal. For a more comprehensive breakdown of who is in and who is out, you can read it all here.
With plenty of big names opting out of bowl season, it’s welcome to see both Drew Allar and Jaxson Dart deciding to play as of this writing. Factor in the lack of opt outs on offense as well and that makes their metrics more concrete to work with. That plays in Penn State’s favor, getting the opportunity to consistently move the ball against an Ole Miss defense which has struggled to defend the run.
The Rebels front seven have underwhelmed in their efforts to slow down opposing rush attacks, ranking 86th in Def Rush Success Rate, 67th in Def Rush EPA and 54th in Def Rush Explosiveness. That bodes well for the Nittany Lions as their lone source of consistent success has come from their ability to run the ball as they rank 15th in Rush Success Rate and 31st in Rush PPA.
Should Penn State’s ground game continue to find success, then that alleviates the pressure off of Drew Allar’s shoulders as he may struggle against an above average Rebel secondary. Allar has done a phenomenal job at taking care of the ball but has seen an uptick in turnover-worthy plays to end the season as well as continue to struggle to stretch the field. Should Ole Miss be forced to stack the box, then expect Allar to air out the ball with higher quality passing lanes.
As for the Nittany Lions defense, it should be business as usual for a unit that has next-level talent at all three levels. They finished the season ranked first in Def Success Rate and Havoc, and both elite metrics will be on full display as they contain the Rebels run heavy offense at the line. Ole Miss also ranks a lowly 85th in Havoc Allowed, meaning Penn State will be in a great position to flip the field in their favor with a back-breaking turnover.
Ole Miss vs. Penn State Prediction: Penn State -3.5
Ole Miss vs. Penn State Best Odds
With both teams surviving the transfer portal and opt outs, oddsmakers still lean toward the Nittany Lions favor by opening them as a -3.5 favorite. Bettors are also in agreement, taking them up to -4 in some shops. With their ability to continue to abuse the run, while also containing the Rebels offense, Penn State will be in a position to slowly pull away for the victory.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 48.5. Bettors believe points will come at a slightly slower pace as they have bet the under down to 48 as of this writing. The Rebels defense will need to do their part should the line movement prove to be correct, a tough feat as a weak run stopping unit.
Ole Miss vs. Penn State Key Matchups
Can Penn State’s secondary limit the pass production of Jaxson Dart?
Jaxson Dart vs. Penn State Coverage
As of this writing, Penn State will field their starting group of cornerbacks who have played as one of the best coverage units in football. They finished the season ranked an incredible second in Def Pass Success Rate and sixth in Def Pass PPA.
Two absolute seeds from Jaxson Dart, but what I love most is Quinshon Judkins squaring up Harold Perkins & putting his body on the line in pass pro. pic.twitter.com/zRpb4sD1lp
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) October 2, 2023
Every bit of that production will need to be called upon against Jaxson Dart who has made impressive strides in his production at quarterback for the Rebels. He led Ole Miss to impressive marks in the pass attack, ranking 35th in Pass Success Rate and 19th in Pass PPA. The issue for Dart is that Penn State is capable of creating pressure with just their front four, allowing the Nittany Lions to drop more back in coverage and smother passing lanes.